Sunday, December 28, 2008


7 qualities are reflected in the people who populate the birth narratives of Jesus

ORDINARY PEOPLE. It is not just quaint that ordinary people like Mary and Joseph find a central place in the story of salvation. It is because they are ordinary that they can perceive both the need for salvation and live in hope of it. Along with Zechariah, the shepherds, Simeon, and Anna, Mary and Joseph convey qualities that make them salvation-ready.

THE ARC OF HUMAN LIFE. Salvation, as I refer to it here, is not some kind of individual mental assent and emotional consent to a gospel syllogism, the result of which promises to secure one's personal soul for eternity. Salvation does have profound personal dimensions and makes intimate claims on each of us. But the salvation described in the stories of the birth and life of Jesus of Nazareth has just as much to do with salvaging, reshaping and redirecting the arc of human life and history away from destruction and despair and toward ultimate meaning and purpose.

SEVEN ASPECTS OF READINESS. Consider the kind of people who populate the birth and early life narratives of Jesus. Not perfect people. Not well-bred people. Not influential people. Not highly-educated people. The following seven aspects do not “qualify” them--or us--for salvation, but they are qualities that happen to be evident in the people who fill the Christmas story. And I wonder to what extent our readiness to enter into salvation history hinges on the same?

1. They are people who can bear the shame of scandal without giving up.

2. They are people who are willing to accept simple, humbling instructions…and follow through.

3. They are people who are acquainted with suffering and know the limits of self-righteousness and self-effortfulness.

4. They are people who are earnestly curious about the ways of God. They are sincere seekers.

5. They are people who don’t have things figured out so much as they steadfastly trust God will make a difference.

6. They are people who are willing to be led and to lead out based on clear commands.

7. They are people who fear but who refuse to become their fears.

More later.

In the spirit of dialog, I welcome comments and/or questions. Click on "responses" below to post. They're moderated only to reduce incivility. Shalom!

1 comment:

  1. Marti R.2:35 PM

    Thanks for the message. It made me think of my mother, who at age 77 is still actively helping at her local church in Greenville. Actually, I've been dissapointed with that church in some ways because they have leaned on her more than I would have wanted for her during her later years in life. Your message made me re-think those thoughts, and now I'm grateful for her continued witness to the church and its members despite that she'll be 78 in April.


Your tasteful comments and/or questions are welcome. Posts are moderated only to reduce a few instances of incivility.